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Pair of New York City views showing Manhattan from the East River and North River (now called the Hudson River) featuring a cityscape with many tall buildings with heavy nautical traffic in the rivers. Each print was originally drawn and engraved by Robert Havell, Jr. and printed in various states. The prints were re-engraved in 1930 by Raoul Varin in this limited edition of 125.
Gloria Gilda Deak, discusses the attributes of Havell's original Panoramic View of New York. (Taken From the North River) upon which Varin based his print:
A long, horizontal copperplate has been used for this panoramic view of New York to emphasis the splendor of the city's generous harbor: a stretch of it is shown extending far out to sea at the right. We face Manhattan in the view, looking east, across the Hudson (here called the North River, an alternate designation appearing from colonial times). River and bay dominate more than half the scene, and the artist, working with a sureness of technique in mapping his seascape, has arrived at a representation of limpid water mirroring boat and sky that borders on the spectacular. Few open spaces can be detected in the city's receding shoreline, shown from the Battery (at the right) to the Clinton Market at the foot of Canal and Spring Streets (at the left). Solid buildings form a steady architectural parade northward, their strong horizontality providing a nice contrast with the skyward thrust of the city's ecclesiastical structures. Churches, reaching to a world beyond, still remain Manhattan's skyscrapers.
Robert Havell Jr. was a British-born engraver and painter, member of the Havell family of artists. He learned the art of aquatint engraving from his father, Robert Havell Sr. and worked in the family engraving business and then with Colnaghi's in London. He established himself as a master of aquatint with 425 plates he executed for John James Audubon's Birds of America, published in London between 1827 and 1838. In 1839, at Audubon's invitation, Havell moved with his family to New York and embarked on a new career as a landscape painter in the style of the Hudson River school, while also working as an engraver. He lived in Ossining and Tarrytown and traveled throughout the Northeast, sketching views which he translated into oil paintings and engravings at home. Perhaps his best known aquatint is Niagara Falls from the Chinese Pagoda, which he engraved after one of his paintings. His works are in the collections of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art, The White House, the New York Historical Society and many others.
Raoul Varin was a French engraver who exhibited in the Salon of French Artists and received an honorable mention in 1892. He engraved a variety of signed, limited edition numbered prints, principally New York City and Chicago views, in the 1920s and 1930s. They were published by A. Ackermann & Son, a British publisher, with offices in Paris, Chicago and New York. His views took a historical perspective, generally showing the cities in the 19th century, often based on extant classic works. Some of Varin’s Chicago prints were historical views based on 19th century illustrations that had been published in France by Jevne and Almini. He did many Chicago scenes such as Chicago in 1871 – The Great Fire at the Junction of the North and South Branches of the Chicago River (Ackerman: 1928), Randolph Street Chicago From Clark to State Streets in the Year 1865 (Ackermann, Chicago: 1927), and A Bird’s-Eye View of Lake Shore Drive Chicago 1889 from the top of the Water Tower (Ackermann, Chicago: 1932). A large collection of his Chicago views are in the collection of the Chicago Historical Society. In 1930, Varin did a pair of views New York from the North River 1839 and New York from the East River 1843, based on the original engravings by Robert Havell, Jr. (1793-1878). He also engraved St. Paul’s Church Broadway New York 1831 (Ackerman, New York: 1931), numerous views of Wall Street, etc.
Deak, Gloria Gilda. Picturing America. Princeton University Press: 1989. Item 498.
"Robert Havell Jr." The Grove Dictionary of Art. New York: Macmillan. 2000. Artnet.com. http://www2.artnet.com/library/03/0369/T036956.asp (9 September 2003).
Zellman, Michael David. American Art Analog, Vol. 1. New York: Chelsea House, 1986. p. 113.